When China was awarded the bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics Games, there were concerns over a host of potential problems.
When the European Parliment passed a resolution (one of the only things the Europeans can do effectively), China responded--as usual--with words; more exactly, a new motto.
To quell concerns over this [human rights issues], Beijing chose the motto of "New Beijing, Great Olympics" in order to emphasize the country's movement towards new ideals for the new millennium.
Now a story pops up this weekend in London that British athletes are having to sign a "no criticism" contract in order to compete in the Chinese Olympics.
British Olympic chiefs are to force athletes to sign a contract promising not to speak out about China's appalling human rights record – or face being banned from travelling to Beijing.
The move – which raises the spectre of the order given to the England football team to give a Nazi salute in Berlin in 1938 – immediately provoked a storm of protest.
The controversial clause has been inserted into athletes' contracts for the first time and forbids them from making any political comment about countries staging the Olympic Games. It is contained in a 32-page document that will be presented to all those who reach the qualifying standard and are chosen for the team.
Isn't this exactly the sort of thing that those people concerned about when the the games were first awarded to China?
Does this appalling gag order apply to U.S. athletes also?
What does the U.S. have to say about it?
The "no criticism" rule will affect all the British athletes--including the Queen's granddaughter.
What do the British say about the Queen's granddaughter being gagged?
The British Olympic Association says that any athlete who refuses to sign the agreements will not be allowed to travel to Beijing.
From the moment they sign up, the competitors – likely to include the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips and world record holder Paula Radcliffe – will be effectively gagged from commenting on China's politics, human rights abuses or illegal occupation of Tibet.
Prince Charles has already let it be known that he will not be going to China, even if he is invited by Games organisers.
His views on the Communist dictatorship are well known, after this newspaper revealed how he described China's leaders as “appalling old waxworks” in a journal written after he attended the handover of Hong Kong. The Prince is also a long-time supporter of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader.
Does the gag order include, upon reaching Beijing and exiting the airplane, bending over and telling the Chinese to kiss your ass?
UPDATE: 1540 - February 10, 2008 Sunday
Concerning the USA Olympics Team: According to a comment on the story at Reason, here's the scoop on the USA Olympic Team:
The BOA took the decision even though other countries – including the United States, Canada, Finland, and Australia – have pledged that their athletes would be free to speak about any issue concerning China.
idea/image: RidesAPaleHorse; simpsons
* Britain kow tows to China as Athletes are forced to sign no-criticism contracts
* 2008 summer Olypmics
* Brits Gag Athletes from Bad-mouthing China
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.